RHETORIC AND POLITICS – THE POWER OF WORDS IN SHAKESPEARE'S JULIUS CAESAR
Keywords:Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, rhetoric, politics, power, manipulation
Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar emphasises the connection between rhetoric and politics. Some scholars, like Gayle Greene and Kim Ballard, point out that rhetoric in Julius Caesar is extremely important for the central political problems and character analysis. They also argue that Shakespeare implicitly criticises and condemns rhetoric that hides moral and political truth. Language is the most influential tool for seizing power in the play. Shakespeare well understands that power comes from those politicians who know how to manipulate the passions of the common people. Shakespeare’s soldiers are at the same time skilful politicians who, by manipulating particular words and gestures, try to attain their own ambitious goals. Funeral speeches offer Brutus and Antony a chance to convince people of the value of their own ideology through the power of spoken words. Describing Caesar’s murder as the result of the conspirators’ efforts to maintain order in Rome, Brutus uses prose and parallelisms to create a sense of balance. Using blank verse, apostrophe, repetition and irony, Antony affects the feelings of the Roman people and causes them to revolt. Shakespeare emphasises that mastering rhetoric results in strong political power and control.
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